Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that converts the sugars and starches we eat into glucose, aka blood sugar, to use as energy. Diabetes is a long-term metabolic disease where the body produces no insulin or has cells that do not respond to insulin, resulting in excess blood glucose or hyperglycemia.
For those with Type 1 Diabetes, it is an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas. The damage this creates leads to reduced ability or complete inability to create insulin.
Also known as Adult Onset Diabetes, Type 1.5 Diabetes occurs when the body ceases to produce insulin later in life as the result of health conditions such as Leaky Gut Syndrome.
In cases of Type 2 Diabetes, the cells are resistant to insulin. This occurs most often in response to lifestyle choices and other underlying mechanisms and can lead to serious issues in the body.
Gestational Diabetes occurs in women during pregnancy, and can typically be controlled with diet and exercise. If left unmanaged, complications from childbirth may arise. Normal blood glucose levels typically return following childbirth, however mothers who have experienced Gestational Diabetes are at greater risk for Type 2 Diabetes.
Those with hyperglycemia typically but to not necessarily experience:
- Frequent urge to urinate
- Increased hunger and thirst
- Blurred vision
- Abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting
- Unexplained weight loss
- Neuropathy, resulting in numbness and tingling in hands and feet
Many diabetics were previously diagnosed as Prediabetic. Prediabetes occurs when blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a Diabetes diagnosis. This can also result from insulin resistance.
What causes Diabetes?
Genetics can play a role in how your body makes insulin, however Type 2 Diabetes often results from a combination of lifestyle choices and underlying mechanisms, including:
- Being overweight or obese, especially with extra weight around the middle (apple shape)
- High blood glucose
- High cholesterol
- High triglycerides
- High blood pressure
- High cortisol (adrenal gland dysfunction)
- Gut infections
- Food sensitivities
Insulin resistance can be the cause OR effect of the conditions listed above. It can be hard to know which came first.
Stress can contribute to high blood glucose levels as well.
The adrenal gland responds to stress by releasing cortisol, a hormone that increases blood sugar as part of the body’s fight-or-flight response. Cortisol triggers blood sugar production for increased energy, readying your body for action. If left unmanaged, prolonged stress can not only increase blood glucose, but limit your ability or willingness to manage symptoms.
Several studies have also linked gut infections such as Leaky Gut to Type 1 Diabetes.
A variety of blood glucose tests must be performed to diagnose Diabetes, however a functional medicine practitioner will also look to resolve underlying causes such as stress, adrenal gland health, gut infections, mercury toxicity, biotoxin exposure and others.
Those with Type 1 Diabetes will need to take insulin injections throughout their lives to balance blood glucose levels. Regular blood tests and diet will help manage the condition. Along with advising on a healthy and active lifestyle, a Functional Medicine practitioner can help with proper management of autoimmunity, gut infections and other issues to lower the amount of insulin required to support your Type 1 Diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes can be reversed in most cases. Understanding the root cause of the disease is key to overcoming its grasp. Staying away from foods like grains, refined sugar, dairy (raw, grass-fed may be acceptable for some people), alcohol and GMO’s are key in reversing this disease. Also getting regular exercise and managing any underlying mechanisms, like high cortisol, can help you achieve a full recovery.
If you are suffering with any health related issues, I am currently accepting new patients. To start the testing process and discover what is driving your health issues and to get on the road to recovery call our office at +1 (866) 498-1958 to schedule your initial consultation.